Day One
 
 
We had been Christmas shopping since about noon when we found ourselves at Costco on November 30, 2002.  It was five o'clock in the evening and Stacey was starting to feel uncomfortable.  Thinking that she was feeling normal pregnancy pains we bought 1000 tablets of Tylenol so that she could take one immediately (Costco doesn't sell them in smaller amounts).  We sat down for Stacey to rest and ate a Costco hot pretzel.  When Stacey felt up to it, we walked to the car and loaded the groceries in the trunk.  As soon as I got into the car I could tell Stacey wasn't feeling well.  We still needed to go to the grocery store but decided that we would go home, let Stacey rest and try to go later that night.
 
As soon as we got home, Stacey laid down to take a nap.  By now it was about 7:00 pm and we were both hungry.  I got in the car and went out to get some food.  When I got home, I ate my food and Stacey picked at hers as she paced the floor.  She was feeling really uncomfortable and found it hard to sit still.  To try and make herself more comfortable, she drew herself a warm bath and got in the tub.  This helped, but didn't fix the pain.
 
It was now about 8:00 pm and I realized we were in for the evening.  Wanting to do something productive I cleaned the bathroom and setup all of our Christmas decorations (we have a small condo so it didn't take long).  While I was doing these two things I was also helping my wife whenever requested.  Stacey was going from shower, to lying down, to the tub, to lying down, etc.  She was very uncomfortable and felt like something was wrong.  At about 9:30 pm she called her sister in Oregon to ask her if what she was feeling was normal.  Her sister laughed and told her she needed to get a higher tolerance for pain because labor was going to be much worse.
 
Stacey was feeling severe pain in the epigastric (upper abdominal) region.  Stacey described her pain as being just below her sternum.  At this point my wife had me call her doctor.  I did so and was given a message of a number to call incase of an emergency.  At this point I still didn't understand the severity of the situation so I asked my wife if she wanted me to call the number.  I wanted to make sure that this was an "emergency."  She gave me a firm and frustrated yes so I called.  When the doctor on call answered the phone I began rambling about my wife.  He stopped me and asked to speak with her.  They spoke for a few minutes and then my wife hung up the phone.  She said that the doctor told her to take some Tylenol and Tums and lie down for a while.
 
About five minutes later the phone rang.  It was the doctor.  He said that he didn't want to alarm us but, if the pain my wife was describing was a little lower than the sternum, we should go to the hospital and have her blood pressure checked.  My wife promptly got dressed and we were on our way to the hospital.  I didn't even bring my wallet.  I will forever be thankful to that doctor for calling us back.  He saved the life of my wife and child as you will discover as you read on.
 
We soon found ourselves on the fifth floor of Utah Valley Regional Medical Center (UVRMC).  The time was now about 10:00 pm.  My wife had been sick the first trimester of her pregnancy and had not gained much weight.  As a result our baby was small and my wife was barely showing (although she was just beginning the third trimester).  The nurse behind the desk looked suspiciously at my barely showing wife as we approached the labor and delivery desk.  We told her that the doctor on call recommended that we come in to have Stacey's blood pressure checked due to severe epigastria pain.  We were escorted back to a small room where they placed a blood pressure cuff on my wife's arm.  After a few minutes the nurse looked at the blood pressure machine and gasped.  Stacey's blood pressure was 188/114.  The nurse looked at us both and told us that we had better plan on not leaving the hospital for a few days and that there was a good chance that they would have to take the baby that night by way of emergency c-section.  The nurse then left the room to page the doctor and get the equipment she needed to do blood tests on Stacey.  We were stunned.
 
It was now quiet in the room and Stacey and I looked at each other.  We were both overwhelmed by what the nurse had just told us.  We discussed calling family to let them know of the circumstances but decided to wait until the blood tests came back.  We didn't want anyone to get worried over nothing.  The nurse appeared for a few minutes to draw blood samples and strap a fetal monitor on my wife.  Because her belly was still so small the fetal monitor would not stay in place and needed constant adjusting.  The nurse left and Stacey and I began to talk.  We knew that Stacey would need a priesthood blessing but we again decided that we would wait to call anyone to be sure that we weren't making a mountain out of a mole hill.  The nurse reappeared to tell us the doctor was ordering an emergency c-section.  They were going to have to take the baby that night.  It was now 10:40 pm.  The nurse left the room.
 
My heart sank.  The silence in the room was deafening.  I was trying to keep myself from loosing my composure.  I stared hard at the floor and then I looked at my wife.  I had never seen my wife cry before that moment.  We cried together.  We were scared and didn't know what was going to come of all that was going on.
 
I called my brother-in-law and asked him to come to the hospital to help me give Stacey a blessing.  He thought I was joking, but soon realized I wasn't.  He said he would be there right away.  I then followed my wife to a delivery room where they prepped her for surgery.  When I thought I had gained my composure I called my dad only to lose control emotionally.  I told him what was going on, asked him to pray for us, and to relay the news to everyone else in my family.  I then called Stacey's sister and asked her to do the same with Stacey's family.  It was now a little past 11 o'clock and I spent the next half an hour nervously pacing the floor waiting for family to arrive at the hospital.  While I was waiting hospital staff kept coming in and out of my wife's room getting her ready for surgery.  There were even people there from the NICU trying to prepare us for what to expect when having a preemie.  I appreciated all the information that we were given but I have to honestly admit most of it went in one ear and out the other.  The only information I retained dealt with an experimental treatment that we could either consent to participate in or not.  The study increased the chances of oxygen exchange in the lungs by mixing nitric oxide into the air my daughter would breath.
 
At about 11:40 pm things calmed down enough that it was time to give Stacey a priesthood blessing.  Two of my brother-in-laws and a good friend had all arrived with their wives.  Each of the men assisted in the blessing.  Stacey's brother anointed and I blessed.  I was then thrown a gown which I dressed in.  At 11:45 pm we were in the operating room.
 
The doctors arrived and continued to get everything ready for the surgery.  A few minutes later, right before they were about to begin, one of the doctors asked my wife if she knew why they were taking her baby.  Stacey repeated back what she had been told since arriving at the hospital.  She said that they were taking the baby because she had severe preeclampsia and H.E.L.L.P syndrome.  The doctor nodded in agreement but then said, "We are taking your baby tonight, because if we don't both you and your daughter will die."  He explained that if she hadn't come to the hospital she would most likely had a seizure in her sleep or that her liver would have burst and she would have died.  The severity of the situation was finally starting to sink in.
 
I sat at the side of my wife's head next to the anesthesiologist behind a curtain that separated us from the surgery site.  I held my wife's hand and talked to her.  During this time we decided to enroll our daughter in the nitric oxide study.  Stacey also told me that she wanted me to go with our daughter once she was born.  At 12:13 am, December 1, 2002  the anesthesiologist told me to stand up and look over the curtain.  At 12:14 am I watched the two doctors pull my daughter Bailey Michelle Strong from my wife.  I watched as they rushed her into an adjoining room and then I sat back down.  I was a father.  I kissed my wife on the forehead and said, "Congratulations, you are a mom!"  Stacey smiled and told me to go be with Bailey.  I left my wife and entered the adjoining room.
 
When I entered the room Bailey was already intubated.  They were using a catheter that went down her throat tube put some sort of medicine/steroid directly into her lungs.  There was a lot happening and I had a lot on my mind so I don't remember many details.  After a few minutes they wheeled her from the room, across the hall, and into the NICU.  Friends and family caught a short glimpse of her in the hall.  Once she was in the NICU she was hooked up to all sorts of machines and monitors.  There was a lot of commotion and I was worried about Stacey so I went back to see her.  Unfortunately, this was the first time I was in the hospital without someone to follow, and all the doors I had come through were locked from the other side.  I got a little lost, but did find my wife.  I stayed with her a little while and then went back to see Bailey.
 
Things were much calmer now and I was able to spend some time talking with family and friends, and with Bailey.  My wife was wheeled in, on her bed, from the OR to the NICU to see her precious daughter.  She was able to touch her gently but not able to get a good look.  They were each lying on their backs making it difficult to see each other.  Stacey was then taken to her room.  I stayed with Bailey a few minutes more and then went down to Stacey's room.  I asked family to come back in about 12 hours to give Bailey a blessing.  They all agreed.  It was now about 3:00 am.  I made sure Stacey was comfortable and then went back up to see Bailey.  I stayed there until about 4:00 am watching the nurses and doctors take care of her.  I then went to Stacey's room to kiss her good night, say my prayers of thanks, and go to sleep.
 
These pictures were taken when Bailey was barely 3 hours and 15 minutes old.  Click on any of the pictures to see a larger view.  That is my hand in the pictures (my hand is not large).  Below these pictures are Bailey's foot and hand prints (real size) taken at the same time as the pictures.